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First Fridays- Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School Tour

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As part of the First Fridays series of once a month charter school tours in DC, the school year kicked off with an interactive tour of a unique charter school in Columbia Heights. Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School opened its doors in 2011, currently serving students in grades pre-K through second. The school has plans to further expand into eighth grade as well as into a bigger building.

The tour began with a discussion of the goals of Mundo Verde and the practices they currently use. Each day, the students are emerged in a curriculum system that is in both English and Spanish languages. In one particular kindergarten class full of eager 5 and 6 year olds, the onlookers got to witness a teacher who commits to never speaking English in the classroom.

As a student myself I have learned a lot about what makes a great teacher and what constitutes a poor teacher. With today’s student success being largely based on teacher evaluations, it is more crucial than ever to put quality teachers in the classroom. At Mundo Verde I saw a teacher that was dedicated to a practice of engaging students in a completely Spanish-speaking environment. It is great, and even refreshing, to see what some schools are doing in terms of immersing their students in a new language and culture from an early age.

In other classes, young students were learning about sustainability, as the charter school focuses strongly on this aspect just as much as incorporating multiple languages. Although the “environmental movement” has been ongoing for over a century, the word “sustainability only began to carry weight in the last few decades. Sustainability is “all the rage” with continuing generations and Mundo Verde shows no difference of opinion, instilling upon the students the importance of water conservation

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Houston, We Have a Winner

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Congratulations to the Houston Independent School District (HISD) on winning the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education, an annual grant given by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The Broad Prize is intended to distribute college scholarship grants to school districts that demonstrate large-scale improvements in student achievement.

From 2006-2009, the HISD graduation rate increased by 12%, faster than any other urban school district. The increased graduation rate has been coupled with improved college-readiness, exhibited by the 87 percent of Houston students who took the SAT exam, and the rise in minority students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Not surprisingly, the HISD leadership has developed school policies in recent years that have caused the types of improvements seen within its student body. Teachers undergo training programs designed to familiarize personnel with state standards, as well as learning programs for math, science and ESL. Effective teachers are rewarded through a performance pay system.

The HISD staff also focuses efforts on college and career preparedness by encouraging AP course enrollment and entrance exam participation. Universities and outside organizations have been brought in to introduce STEM coursework and technical education.

While HISD was the recipient of the large grant of $550,000 in college scholarships, three other Broad finalists also received individual grants totaling $150,000: The San Diego Unified School District, Corona-Norco Unified School District in California, and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina.

Upon accepting the award, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier expressed his gratitude to the Broads, and attributed the success of Houston schools to dedicated teachers and a system that allows schools to innovate and spend education dollars autonomously.

http://www.broadprize.org/mediacenter/photos/2013.html

“We are the largest site-based decision making district in the world. And I can promise you, when you have a Broad group come and they want to know how do you do this and

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New Intern Introduction: Ta Lynn Mitchell

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Hello! My name is Ta Lynn Mitchell and I am the newest intern at the Center for Education Reform (CER). As a junior at American University, I have lived here in DC for the past 3 years and I have visited Bethesda Row on many occasions, not aware that CER, a pioneering organization in the education reform movement and an organization that I would later have the opportunity to intern for, was right down the street.

My hopes for my time here at CER are to get a foundational understanding of what Education Policy is and how policies that are enacted on a federal level, impact school systems on the ground around the country.

One of my main assignments for the first week consisted of reading 30 education related articles and imputing them into the database. From this task alone, I have been able to learn a great amount about the current rhetoric around education policy and I have a background understanding about legislation that is in place around the country.

After graduating from American University, I look forward to going abroad in the Peace Corps and working with an educational youth advocacy group in a Latin American Country. Upon returning I will pursue my graduate degree in Education Policy Reform. My vision is to work in an urban school district, as a teacher and then a principal, so I can spend time on the ground and understand what the obstacles are that staff encounters daily and children are experiencing. I would like to move into a policy legislative advocacy position as well.

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